Since we're nearing that weird holiday where kids walk around in costumes and get free candy, and because I'm eating candy and sugared cereal and salty chips and PICKLES ON SANDWICHES!!!* right and left, I think now would be a good time to discuss Halloween candy.
First, we must talk about the ludicrousness of it.
The fact that you get (or got, for those of us now over 4'8") heaps of it.
No really. Let's pause and reflect on that. (Continue reading when you're ready). (By the way, Jerry has reflected on this).
Second, the trading.
I don't know about y'all, but my brothers and I used to extend our Halloween festivities by turning the whole thing into a gambling operation, carried out in full public display in our living room.
With half-worn costumes -- Dorothy braids loosely assembled, PeeWee Herman jacket shed but grey pants still intact -- we would spread ourselves on the carpeted floor and first --
we would sort.
Tootsie Pops with Tootsie Pops, Starbursts with Starbursts, Kit Kats of varying sizes with Kat Kats of other varying sizes.
Four blonde (or red, or black, for the night) heads would bow over the pillages, relishing in all the greatness of the evening's hunt, maybe the stick of a sucker poking out of a mouth puckered deep in concentration.
Once sorted, the trading post would open, inevitably led by -- eye roll -- the eldest child.
For the most part there was a natural and civil order to the operation, with standard trades being Kit Kat for Snickers, Skittles for Starburst, M&Ms for Sixlets. Items equal in brightness of hue, matching in sweetness or tart (Warhead would be an acceptable trade for a Lemon Drop, for those using this guidebook at home; an Airhead might be a comparable trade for a Warhead, but it might make more sense being traded with something in the softer candied division (sometimes texture trumps flavor, don't ask me why)).
Sometimes my brothers would try to pull a fast one on me, but I either wised up quick or never fell to their prey -- I'm not sure which exactly. But anyway.
They would try to get me to trade something delicious of mine for something disgusting of theirs. Namely, what we fondly called "Orange and Black Nasties."
I believe they are a peanut butter candy of some sort, wrapped in black and orange wrappers.
OK, Google tells me they are "Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses."
Um, I like kisses, but y'all can keep these.
Anyway. The bros were always trying to trade orange and black nasties. Which, if they wanted to fool me, they should have just remarketed the product. Orange and black Deliciousies. Something like that.
And now, finally, we must discuss the smell of Halloween candy.
I remember when my brother Patrick first commented on this, whilst sticking his face inside his pillowcase (because after the age of 10 you must graduate from a candy pail to a pillowcase; sturdy, and holds at least 10 pounds of candy -- I know this from experience, and that experience is called the Halloween of 1998) full of sugared plunder and taking a giant and lasting whiff.
I followed his lead and realized all in one moment that this smell I had smelled year after year was indeed unique.
And oh so precious and special.
Don't believe me? Find some kid's bag of candies this year, and put your sniffer near it.
It has its own smell.
All that candy mixed together -- Tootsies, Snickers, suckers -- it is distinct.